So it is closing on this year. 2013, at an end, at last. It has been a mixed year for me really. A year where I have endured too much and had to admit defeat. Had to succumb that I’m not superman – a very poor superman at that. After that however, there have been ups and downs – as for most I guess. During this summer I realized just how much the closeness to the ocean means to me. A lot, and that I’m so damn angry with myself for not fulfilling the dream to learn how to surf. So, the promise was to get a grip, take some swimming lessons, get a wetsuit, get both a boogey-board and a skim-board. Neither of that has come to fulfilment though cause the main theme this year has been – not enough energy to do that sort of thing. A constant battle to keep my nose above the surface so to speak.
Luckily, I have been having a blast with all the gadgets, music and whatnot.
I thought I would try to sum up the high’s and low’s of this year to my experience. Here we go:
The year in Music must have been the pre-order fad. Kickstarting, self-funding and buying from artist’s website have been a growing trend. With new albums from NIN, Nick and the Bad Seeds, Anna Calvi, Queens of the Stone age, Pearl Jam, Alter Bridge, Dave Grohl’s Sound City, Metallica Through the Never, Motörhead, Neko Case, Stone Sour, Dropkick Murphy’s, Norah Jones and Billie Joe’s Foreverly among others. There have been plenty. The best one – well-being who I am – there are few that can stand up to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds so of course, hands down “Push the Sky Away” is this years album. But that is so easy so I will mention a few more things. Metallica’s Through te Never is one of those things. Really great new take on songs from the best albums, and the movie was great. As close to the real thing you can get but the 3D is still over-hyped and meaningless in movies IMHO.
Two other albums that stick out is the Queens of the Stone age album, “…Like Clockwork, and Anna Calvi’s One breath. Two really great albums. Heck, I have to add more because among the ones I have added, there aren’t really any bad ones. Motörhead is kicking ass and taking names. Tight play and real good speed delivering yet again something solid from these guys. I’m amazed, I didn’t have that high hopes for it, but it delivered. So did Nine Inch Nails. I mean the angriest man in music business is a happy guy with wife and kids, having several great side projects, like How to kill Angels, movie scores producing etc but still manages to not only resurrect after a year or so after killing the NIN name – that is speaking for itself that this album is no-nonsense. Alter Bridge warmed up this late autumn for me with the real great hit “Addicted to Pain” from their album “Fortress”. The rest is good – tight – but “Addicted to Pain” is simply a great song!
Yes, and this really hurts to write again. Pearl Jam’s “lightning Bolt” was released after much media hype, Twitter shit-storm, e-mails, Jimmie Kimmel Live shows, Spotify and iTunes pre-listening’s. But for those of us being fans since Ten days who still stuck ion the fan-club and ordered from their fan-page got screwed – Royally. Not only the debacle with the vinyl’s that were crap. There were delay’s. There were such painstaking delays it wasn’t close to funny. Now by pre-ordering the record I thought I might be lucky to get to listen to it before the media started screaming reviews, pre-listening’s and shitty Spotify free-listenings for everyone. – No. Could it be that I would be selected to have it at the same date that the stores got them – NO. At least have it the same time as all the others? – NO! One month after the record was found in stores, gas-stations, on-line shops – I received my CD. I’m sorry TEN-Club but you can go fuck yourself. Especially since there wasn’t a word to the fan’s on-line crying for an explanation. Pre-generated crap about humongous waiting times before being able to open a ticket. Pearl Jam seems to be a band for Americans by Americans and as much as I’m looking forward to the tour next summer – I was on the verge of not going especially since the ticket draw through the TEN Club cost more than DOUBLE the ticket sales price listed. I mean hello? Is Eddie going to come sign your butt for that price? No – then what the hell are you thinking?
The album – well it is OK, it is saved by “Mind your manners” cause the rest, despite Eddie’s words of it being the best Pearl Jam album ever – or even the greatest album ever – it is in PJ terms quite mediocre. A POP:ish single list hit album with a few tear-makers and one kick ass song. That is the let-down this year.
Worst album I bought this year? Has to be “Rogues Gallery” a double CD with half-hearted takes on Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys. A few good tunes but with the celebrity list of singers and bands – it should have been fantastic. Now it is merely a listen through and then . hey let’s listen to “My God is The Sun”! YEAH!!
So, the year in gaming. Indie gaming. ‘Nough said. No not really. There have been some great titles out this year. Battlefield 4, Tomb Raider, BioShock, Baldurs Gate 2 – remake, Batman Origin, X-Com Enemy unknown, Company of Heroes 2, Remember me, Shadow Warrior, DOTA 2 – well the list is long. Gaming is such a big business that games are raining down on us. For good or worse.
I’m not so sure. Battlefield 4 is both a high and low. When working it is a great shooter, among the best there is. But with all the failures and crappy netcode it is at the same time on the bottom low. But I’m bad at playing games this year. I haven’t finished close to half of the games bought or pre-ordered. So, the high this year for me?
I know, far from the best game, the best looking game – but it was the most important game for me. I love the Shadowrun universe and I really love the isometric RPG games. So next year will be great with Pillars of Time, Torment, Wasteland 2 etc coming out.
There can be only one: Aliens: Colonial Marines, the game that was so bad with a PR that stinks so much I’m holding off everything from Gearbox. It even killed my desire to finish Borderlands 2. That’s how bad it was. Even Duke Nukem Forever did a better job. It is simply put horrendously bad and definitely not even worth the 9.99€ on STEAM-sale. It is crap, it is poo in your face, it’s the shit that stinks and then Gearbox’s denials and crappy saving face mentality is making it even worse. It almost makes the TEN club farse pale in comparison.
Gadgets: PC peripheral
I have bought some peripherals this year. Some good, some bad. I have to say that most things have been slightly better this year but there are still some high and lows.
Corsair K70, have been a solid thing on my desk since I bought it. It replaced both the Cooler Master Quick Fire TK Brown keyboard and my Filco Ninja TKR Blue Switches. The K70, is just slightly too soft, but the keyboard have everything you need. The gaming keys for the 1-6 and WASD is great in gaming. The backlit in three modes (not including off) and full keyboard, gaming-keys only lit is great. Some few media keys, a scroll wheel for volume. Great. They took most of the K60 and made it better.
Another great thing is the Razer Taipan BF4 edition. As Razer goes, the drivers impressed me the most. The drivers installed and worked and you were ready to go. I have had many mice that just doesn’t want to be found by the drivers so you can’t make any settings to it. Razer delivered both a small quick mouse that feels great for FPS and that has the drivers to boot as well. Job well done Razer! Best mouse this year.
Unfortunately, the one mouse that most likely would have beaten the Taipan was the Mionix Avior 8200. Unfortunately that one didn’t work well at all. The drivers didn’t work. Couldn’t found the mouse, not even after troubleshooting, checking forums etc. Nothing worked. Which is really a shame. The laser at default felt apt and the feel of the mouse was GREAT, but not working is in my book equal to rubbish. 😦 Still, the feel is so great I may have to check out the Avior 7000, just because.
Another low is the Cooler Master Quick Fire TK Brown. The sort of go between ground between a full-blown keyboard and the TKR keyboard took everything that was great with the standard Quick Fire and made it feel bad and cheap. Quality was lacking and it felt like a cheapo keyboard and the brown keys felt just like rubber-domes. Prying one lose made me almost surprised the colour brown was there.
Worth to mention: QH-90, analog headset. A great headset for the money that had only slightly bad microphone and in the end turned out to be too hot for my ears during play was a surprise this year. Excellent build quality, good sound. Cheaper than the G4me 360 from Sennheiser and almost as good.
Gadgets: Audio and music wise
Wow, what a year. LeadAudio LA120, Furutech ADL Stride, iBasso DX50, Q701, Sennheiser Momentum – what a year! So many things and so many good things. In this very small but so important for me the special high goes to:
Sennheiser Momentum and ADL Stride. Two things that turns more or less anything into an Audiophile rig. The Momentum’s are great. Quality and sound is absolutely on the high. They look gorgeous and if they fit over your ear (works for me for once) they are simply gold! The ADL Stride turns my laptop into a great sound-rig and can drive more or less any great headphone I have and making FLAC turn out great. It also did a great job boosting the Samsung S2 to bearable levels during my early year walks. Great stuff!
There isn’t one thing that really stands on its own here. My iBasso DX50 was a bothersome thing and I had almost a mind to send it back. But, it turned out to be the Micro SD card that was crap. So getting a new one turned out to do the trick and the guys at iBasso made firmwares and updates to secure a great product. So that isn’t it. The LeadAudio LA120 is a great machine, making most things on my desktop computer sound great has the disadvantage of not always being able to turn on. I don’t know what it is but it is really disheartening. So the LA120 is the low this year (but what a luxurious low!). It is most likely the one thing I will replace in the coming months. Another low would be the Razer Hammerhead headset. Plug-earphones that weren’t anything special except a too boosted bass didn’t quite make it. The big brother Hammerhead Pro got bought on promotion with a sales code for the same price. Portable headset with boosted bass can be pleasant sometimes but generally not a product I would recommend.
Well, that’s that. Final note though – this is MY own reflections based on my own experience. I’m not paid to do this, I pay from my own pocket some when I hit a rough spot – I’m going to call that spot all kinds of bad things and lash out.